Thursday, 23 February 2012

Review of 'Forbidden' by Tabitha Suzuma

This is one of the most fascinating, - under-the-skin books I have read in a long time. It left me feeling totally desolate at the end and challenged my whole sense of morality.

To be honest with you, the reason I purchased 'Forbidden' was a little whimsical. I was in my local Waterstones - in the YA section as to be expected - when I caught sight of the book 'Forbidden'. In itself it was little out of the ordinary; black cover, single gripping image (all a little pastiche of the Twilight graphics). If it had just been this on the cover I would have probably passed it over but there was also a bright purple sticker that stated 'Not Suitable for Yonger Readers'.

In the end I purchased it purely out of curiosity - What did a mainstream published YA book with an appropriacy warning actually look like? I knew from the blurb that it was a rather controversial subject matter, and the publisher has made it clear exactly what difficult subject the book deals with. What it doesn't warn you is that this book might just break your heart.

I'm not going to give the traditional kind of review about this book - you need to discover it properly for yourself - or maybe not.

It is a shocking book - it does not hold back on the description of physical intimacy. Primary genitals are named bluntly and actions are lingered over. There is explicit language: the F word is woven throughout (this didn't shock me particularly as I work in a London Comprehensive School and have a very realistic understanding of teenage language.)

Set in London, in the kind of community it is, makes this book very close to home for me. The work I have done with young people over the years allowed me to both fully recognise the scenario but also feel acutely disturbed by it. The depiction of the mother and homelife is incredibly crafted and portrayed - and is sadly not as fictional as it might first seem.

'Forbidden' does have questionable suitablility for a younger pre-18 audience. It breaks most of the rules of YA fiction and yet its truthfulness is something to be praised. I applaud the writer's and publisher's bravery, but wonder if I would, in truth, feel happy about my daughter reading it in her teenage years.

It's a definite 5 STAR (But your life might just be a little happier for not reading it.)

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